Apr 23, 2013

Reading Horizons Discovery at Home Software Review

     As you know we have been using the Reading Horizons Discovery program for a while now and I LOVE it (we HIGHLY recommend it)!! We also received the privilege of  reviewing the Reading Horizons Discovery software. All three kids have been using the program and we have really enjoyed the extra reinforcement.

RH title

     First I want to let you know that I don’t think the software program is right for every learner. I have three VERY different kids, each with their own learning style and each with very distinct personalities. Each of my kids experienced different pros and cons in the software and being as it is software it’s not quite as flexible as the print material. Do your children work well on the computer? Do you want a program that takes very little work on your part? Does your child learn quickly or do they have a learning difference? I want you to think about the answers to those question while reading my review.

Main Tree House

          This is the main tree house (home screen). I like that the screens are easy to navigate and there is not a lot of extra clutter. I was a little concerned that Bean would struggle but she seems to be able to navigate the program very well. The only difficulty we have had is her ability to use the mouse, although nothing to do with the program, it’s something to take into account. Bean now sits in my lap, I control the mouse and she tells me what she wants to do.

Book Shelfs     Word Wall    Games

          The lessons are easy to understand (even for Bean). They present the material in a very straight forward manner. We have dealt with a few programs that are difficult to understand what is being asked but we haven’t run into that with the Discovery software. They are fairly short but don’t seem so short the concept can’t be grasped. The lessons are engaging and keep the kid’s interest. Boo tends to feel the lessons are a little too “babyish” for his liking but he does like the rewards and LOVES getting bags of gold.

Rewards

     I REALLY like the handwriting demonstration and enunciation videos. The handwriting videos have been AMAZING for Sis. It seems that despite me showing her letter formations several time, the computer must know more than Mom Smile because she will now form her letters correctly.

  Handwriting   enunciate tool

     There are lots of phonological exercises which have been great for all three kids. Children with dyslexia and similar language problems seem to really struggle with this and the program is GREAT to build up those deficiencies. The print materials have some games to help build those skills but this has to be one of the major benefits of using the software. If you have a child who is really struggling with phonological awareness, this program just might be the ticket.

Bean Screen Shot

     One of the things that is beneficial when kids are working in a software program is being able to see what they are working on and how they are progressing. Reading Horizons Discovery at home software makes this EASY! You can check to see exactly what your child is doing and if they “passed” that lesson. The program is pretty customizable and allows for you to pick and choose what you need your child to work on. You decide what “passing” is and if they score above that you will see a green status, if they are really close but don’t quite pass you will see a yellow status and if they don’t understand the concept you will see a red status. This is Sis’s overview and you can easily see that see needs some help with one of her lessons (yellow status).

Student View

   From there you can double click on the window and get the breakdown of exactly what the struggle was. Sis has been struggling with segmenting her words and it’s easy to see that’s where she struggled. Then I make a note in our lesson planer to review segmenting with her daily.

Sis

     The parent dashboard does take a little while to get used to but no more than other programs. You also have the option to override lessons if you feel your child has mastered that concept, fantastic for older students, like Boo.

     Now I want to try and summarize who I think should use just the software, who could benefit from both and who should use just the print material. I want to make sure that you understand these are my OPINIONS. These are based on what I observe with my three kids and their learning styles. We have been very happy with the software and if you fit in a “category” that I recommend not using the software and you feel your child should use the software, please use the software. You know your child better than any other person, listen to your gut!!!

     Who I recommend use JUST the software; kids like Bean, enthusiastic, vocal, quick to learn, seem to “just pick it up” kind of kids should do great with just the software. Kids who seem to have a firm grasp of language. Kids who work well on the computer and retain what they learn without lots of hands on activities.

     Who I would recommend to use BOTH; I think kids like Sis could benefit from having both. Kids who like to be independent but sometimes lack the confidence. Kids who have a fairly strong understanding of language but need work on some concepts. Kids who understand reading concepts but need a little reinforcement. Kids who enjoy using the computer and work well on their own.

     Who I recommend use the print; Kids like Boo, kids who need lots of reinforcement and practice. Kids who don’t seem to work well on the computer. Kids who are easily distracted (this is NOT a fast paced video game type program). Kids who need hands on kinesthetic type work. Kids who do not retain information well and things “just don’t stick”. Kids who are behind and need extra help. Kids who are toward the older side of the program (say 9/10), because it is a little more “kidish” (if they do well with software you may want to look at this program).

     With all that said I do think the program is worth the price IF your child is able to utilize it to it’s full potential. If we were to purchase the program ourselves I would purchase it for Sis and Bean but not for Boo (he just doesn’t do well with computer work).

     If you have any question please leave me comment, I’m happy to answer them.

RH ending

Thanks,

Len

Mar 4, 2013

Our Weekend

     I normally don’t wander too far off topic but I want to share our weekend and a lesson in “failed” trips. My best friend of over nine years came up for the weekend so we could visit. I love it when her and her girls come up because we try to do a fun activity while they are here. This particular weekend there was a request to visit a hot springs. We have several hot springs in our area and LOVE to visit them a few times each year. I made the suggestion that we take a hike and visit our favorite spot. The only issue is it’s a two and half mile hike (five total). Most of the hike is gently sloping trails but the very beginning and near the top (pictured bellow) are rather steep. The views are breathtaking and make you feel like your standing on the top of the world.IMG_0644

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     We had five kids with us (from 12 to 3) and all but one LOVED the trip, the other one, well she wasn't’ to happy (except the swimming). Oh well, you can’t win them all.

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     I felt really bad on the way down because my friend started having allergy problems that turned into breathing problems. It was a very LONG hike back down and truthfully not much fun. Somewhere between thinking I may have to carry my friend down the mountain and her youngest thinking we were going to die that night, I was very grateful to my parents for our “failed” trips. I recall at least a few “failed” trips, times when despite my parents best planning and intensions things just didn’t go according to plan. I realized that from those trips I learned more about determination, willpower, and attitude than at any other point in my life. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". My friend is fine (maybe a little traumatized) but I’m sure she will never go on a hike with us again.

Jan 28, 2013

FREE Valentine Calendar Cards

     I was looking through our calendar cards a couple of day ago and realized that we didn’t have any for Valentine’s Day. These cards follow an even/odd pattern. The even days are people and the odd days are animals.
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     Please do not directly link to the PDF, link to my blog instead. All graphic used came from MyCuteGraphics.com
Thanks,
Len